The Bermuda Monetary Authority (BMA) is making allowances for insurance, reinsurance and insurance-linked securities (ILS) company filings to be a little later and for physical board meetings on the island to not be required, in response to the Covid-19 coronavirus outbreak.
The financial market regulator for Bermuda, the BMA activated a business continuity plan on February 6th 2020, to enable it to maintain its services while limiting exposure to Covid-19.
With remote working enforced and the need for physical meetings minimised at the BMA, the organisation has now also extended some leniency around certain rules of relevance to reinsurance and ILS market players to help them adapt to more remote ways of working as well.
The BMA said that as the coronavirus pandemic is “causing significant operational disruptions” for the industry, it could affect the ability of some of its regulated insurance and reinsurance companies to meet their statutory filing requirements.
As a result, the BMA said that all re/insurers, be they Class 1, Class 2, Class 3, Class 3A, Class 3B, Class A, Class B, Class C, Class D, Class E, Special Purpose Insurers, or the new Collateralized Insurers, will now benefit from a waiving of the fee for a one-month filing extension.
Effectively, this means all Bermuda insurance groups, all insurers, reinsurers, intermediaries and insurance managers, can take advantage of this one-month extension from their respective annual statutory filing date.
In addition and perhaps of great relevance to some in the ILS market where numerous vehicles, structures and funds are utilised, the BMA is also waiving the need for physical board meetings through the first-half of the year.
“Given the current travel disruptions caused by the pandemic, the Authority recognises that, in a number of cases, Bermuda Registrants will be unable to hold physical Board of Directors meetings in Bermuda,” the regulator explained.
Further explaining that it “will not seek to enforce this requirement during the first half of the 2020 year,” but added that all registrants should try to hold their Board meetings via audio or video conferencing instead.
It’s good to see regulators responding to what is a challenging time for many in the industry, with working from home and zero travel a significant change for many people’s routines and business models.
It’s important we all abide by social distancing guidelines and the BMA is helping in this respect, with its announcement enabling re/insurance and ILS businesses to operate with continuity without the need for as much face-to-face contact.
These moves by the BMA were made ahead of the Government of Bermuda announcing that LF Wade airport would close from Friday, March 20th for two weeks.
This came following an announcement that there are two imported cases of the coronavirus in Bermuda, residents returning from the U.S. and UK. The Government is now employing contact tracing tactics to identify whether any spread could have occurred and the two persons are self-isolated.
The Government has also restricted public bus and ferry services until April 6th, in an effort to ensure any virus cases are contained.
Bermuda Premier David Burt said, “Though there is no evidence of community spread of COVID19 in Bermuda, we cannot rule it out. That is the reason for the measures announced last night.”
So it’s important that the BMA has stepped up and put in place measures to ensure business continuity and allowed these more flexible rules to be put in place.